The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

If steampunk is "victorian" inspired, then is it still steampunk if...

My sister and I got into a rather heated debate. I tend to be a bit annoying when it comes to history, since I take it very seriously and like to have my facts straight.

The little one said to me, "Victorian France was cooler than Victorian England."

She's fourteen, and just loves to rritate the hell out of me. She loves steampunk, but if she wante to irk me, she'll play any card that she can.

I was quick to point out that Queen Victoria, whose name the adjective "Victorian" comes from, obviously, was only the queen of England. Therefore, there could not have possibly been a Victorian France. I asked her to please address the time period as "turn-of-the-century" when talking about other countries.

She, in turn, was quick to point out that Josephine Sawyer is from Ireland. -grin- She never misses anything, that little bugger.

And so the question arose.

Is it still steampunk if it's not England-based? Ireland? Scotland? Wales? France, even? I think so. What do you think?

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I bloody hope it still is, or I'm not steampunk in the slightest!
I think Victorian is used as an idea of a time-period because everyone knows it.
And maybe also because most steampunkers are from Britain or the US.

There indeed wasn't a "Victorian France" but the fashion part was very similar.

As for the time period, it would have been the 2nd republic, Napoleon III for the 2nd empire and the 3rd republic (we're having the 5th one at the minute) so from 1848 to 1914.
If you take Victoria Ist reign then it's from 1837 to 1901 so the start in France would be under the July Monarchy between 1830 and 1848.
(that was a bit out of topic but it's there for anyone interested)
Different countries use different terminologies for their eras, and you are correct - there is no 'Victorian France'. In continental Europe this time coincides with the first part of the period they called the 'Belle Époque'.

That said, remember that Victoria didn't just rule England. The Victorian era applies to the entire of the United Kingdom. And given Ireland didn't yet have independence at that stage, they would have shared their Victorian era with England, Scotland and Wales. I'd argue that all countries that were members of the British Empire at that time would have reason to call this era 'Victorian'. However, issues closer to home could mean another term becomes more prominent. For instance you are more likely to hear of the 'Federation period' in Australia than the 'Edwardian era'.

Steampunk is definitely placed within a broader geography than England alone. Jules Verne was French after all! It might be useful to focus on the 'steam' part of the word 'steampunk' to avoid confusion. That way we can focus on the influence of steam and the industrial revolution rather than just the presence of Queen Victoria!
Thank you! :)
Amen on this one. As I mentioned in another reply on this thread, my clothing is 1950's but my tech is all steam. I have no interest in diesel tech but a lot of people assume due to the era. I don't really care though. I consider it steampunk and that's really all that matters to me. I'm very non-traditional as it is.
it is steampunk, adriana, it is. ^_^ don't let anyone tell you otherwise! ::hugs::
Victorian England may be at the heart of the machine, but it is not the whole of the machine.
I agree with this!
"Is it still steampunk if it's not England-based? Ireland? Scotland? Wales? France, even? I think so. What do you think?"

I think it's still steampunk even if it has nothing to do with the Victorian or turn of the century time period. Steampunk can take influence from everything from the late 1500s [Especially in France, hello Baroque and Rococo we love you] up through our modern era and various era's ideas of the future.

Victoriana is a large part, but still only a part of steampunk. Not the other way 'round. The fiction tends to have a much tighter timeline of acceptability, but the styling and fashion influences can really come from any time.
At some point in the time line the names change into something else. still on the same basis but they change the name.
Steampunk is edwardian and victorian.... i will have to find that list and post it. I don't know how popular they are but it is interesting.
"Steampunk can take influence from everything from the late 1500s [Especially in France, hello Baroque and Rococo we love you] up through our modern era and various era's ideas of the future."

I very much agree, especially factoring in the time travel aspect in Steamcraft.
Let's see, at the time Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland and Wales, Queen of Ireland, Empress of India, and Queen of the dozens of Colonies around the world. Places like Australia and Canada did not exist in their current forms but were smaller individual colonies. Then there's places like Hong Kong, various South American islands and even Hawaii that were all under the sphere of British influence. Probably over half the world would have referred to the 19th century as "Victorian". Even Americans use the phrase.

Belle Époque is sometimes used, though that was a name given to the era afterwards. And "turn of the century" is something only 8 years past :-)

Steampunk can certainly be from other places. One of my favourite steampunk TV series was called Legend set in Colorado in the 1870s with Richard Dean Anderson as womanising, alcoholic dime novelist Ernest Prastt and John de Lancie as a heavily Tesla-inspired (Pratt would say "homage") Hungarian inventor with a huge dislike of Thomas Edison. Sadly it was well before its time.

Steampunk can also refer to the "feel" if not the actual timer period. One of my favourite alternate history books is The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove. It's set in the late 20th century but in a world where the War of Independence was settled peacefully and the US is now part of the North American Union. The story features steamcars, airships, anarchists, Royalty, and takes a tour of the Union. despite not being 19th century it certainly has the steampunk feel.


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